Within weeks of Thomas Hardy’s return to his native Dorchester in June 1883, he began to compile his ’Facts’ notebook, which he kept up throughout the years when he was writing some of his major work - The Mayor of Casterbridge, The Woodlanders, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. From his intensive study of the Dorset County Chronicle for 1826-1830, he noted and summarised into 'Facts' (with the help of his first wife, Emma) hundreds of reports, many of them suggestive 'satires of circumstance', for possible use in his fiction and poems. Along with extensive reading in memoirs and local histories, this immersion in the files of the old newspaper involved him in a wider experience - the recovery and recognition of the unstable culture of the local past in the post-Napoleonic war years before his birth in 1840, and before the impact of the modernising of the Victorian era. 'Facts' is thus a unique document amongst Hardy's private writings and is here for the first time edited, the text transcribed in 'typographical facsimile' form, together with substantial annotation of the entries and critical and textual introductions.

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The Notebook